“You’ll lose without that pair, though,” ventured Dave. “And it must shake the confidence of your men, too, for you’ve come here without your two best men.”
“Of course, we have to manage our own affairs,” interposed one of the cadets.
“Gentlemen,” spoke up Dave quickly, “of course, you have to manage your own problems, and no one else is fitted to do so. If I’ve gone too far in what might have seemed like criticism, then I beg you to forget it. I don’t want to be suspected of any disagreeable intent. If I spoke almost bitterly it was because Prescott is my very dear friend. I have another, and a real grievance—–I wanted to test myself out today against Dick Prescott, as any two friends may contest to vanquish one another on the field of sports.”
“No one had any thought, I am sure, Mr. Darrin, of accusing you of wishing to be disagreeable,” spoke up Cadet Fields. “We believe you to be a prince of good and true fellows; in fact, we accept you at the full estimate of the Brigade of Midshipmen. Wade in and beat us to-day, if you can—–but you can’t Prescott or no Prescott.”
“Better run inside and tog!” called Wolgast from a distance.
“You’ll excuse us now, won’t you?” asked Dave. “Come along, Danny boy.”
As the two midshipmen lifted their caps and hastened away, Fields gazed after them speculatively:
“There goes the Navy’s strength in to-day’s game,” he announced.
“I wonder if we have done Prescott any wrong?” said another cadet slowly.
“That question has been settled by formal class action,” replied another. “It’s a closed matter.”
Then these West Point men strolled over to quarters to get into togs. As they were to play subs. they did not need to be as early at togging as the members of the team.
Out on Franklin Field thousands and thousands of Americans, from the President of the United States down, waited impatiently for the excitement of the day to begin.
On either side of the field some hundreds of seats were still left vacant. The music of a band now floated out, proclaiming that one set of seats was soon to be filled. Then in, through a gate, marched the Military Academy band at the head of the Corps of Cadets. Frantic cheers broke loose on the air, and there was a great fluttering of the black and gray banners carried by the Army’s boosters in the audience. Gray and steel-like the superb corps marched in across the field, and over to the seats assigned to them.
Barely had the Army band ceased playing when another struck up in the distance. It was now the turn of the fine Naval Academy band to play the Brigade of Midshipmen on to the field. Again the air vibrated with the intensity of the loyal cheers that greeted the middies.
Over in quarters, after the middies of the team had togged, a few anxious minutes of waiting followed. What was to be the fate of the day?